Another week in the books and more great NHL action. Teams are really starting to show what they’re made of, for better or for worse.
1. San Jose Sharks 7-0-1 (15 points) (no change)
San Jose continues to stay hot. Sure, they can score, as evident by Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau amassing 14 points each so far, but Antti Niemi has been even better. Niemi has a 1.80 goals against and a .936 save percentage. That’s a recipe for success.
2. Chicago Blackhawks 7-0-2 (16 points) (no change)
When Marian Hossa tied the game against Calgary with only seconds remaining, you saw just what this team is made of. They’ve won a lot of close, hard-fought games and have played a tough schedule. Corey Crawford came into this season as a question mark and so far he’s more than answered the call, with a 1.66 goals against and a .934 save percentage.
3. Boston Bruins 6-1-1 (13 points) (up 1 spot)
The Bruins are getting scoring from up and down their roster so far, with Brad Marchand (5 goals) leading the way. Tuukka Rask has looked sensational at times and the penalty kill has been equally as impressive. With their aggressive forecheck, this is a team that no one wants to tussle with right now.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2-0 (12 points) (up one spot)
Yes, the Lightning can score goals in droves, but it’s their defense that has been most impressive. Teams have scored a few garbage goals late on them, but for the most part they’ve been solid in their own end. Can they keep this up? They have a tough week this week, but with Steven Stamkos (16 points) leading the way along with Martin St. Louis, I can’t see them cooling down that much.
5. St. Louis Blues 6-2-0 (12 points) (down 2 spots)
The Blues let a late lead slip away in Detroit last week, or else they would have been higher. This team is getting production from their entire lineup. Will Brian Elliott or Jaroslav Halak play well enough to wrestle the starting job away from the other, or will they continue to be goalie-by-committee?
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3-0 (12 points) (up 2 spots)
The Penguins have awoken from their slow start with a vengeance. What a weekend for the Pens. They blew out New Jersey 5-1 and then followed that up with a 6-3 destruction of the Capitals. Its not just the Malkin-Crosby show here, as James Neal and Chris Kunitz have been great.
7. Anaheim Ducks 5-1-1 (11 points) (down 1 spot)
They put up seven goals on the defending champs and they show no signs of slowing down offensively. You know you have depth, when Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are behind Daniel Winnik (five) and young Kyle Palmieri, (four)in goals scored.
8. Montreal Canadiens 6-2-0 (12 points) (up 2 spots)
I’ve been very impressed with this team so far. Alex Galchenyuk looks like the real deal and with Andrei Markov and PK Subban on the powerplay, the Habs are currently ninth in the league at 23.9% with the man-advantage. Carey Price has quietly been off to a sensational start, with a 1.70 goals against and .938 save percentage through his first seven games.
9. Ottawa Senators 5-3-1 (11 points) (down 2 spots)
The Sens have shown that they have some depth in their lineup. Their 5-1 destruction of Montreal was an impressive win. Craig Anderson is off to an unreal start for Ottawa. His 1.12 goals against and .964 save percentage in eight starts is mind-bogglingly good.
10. Vancouver Canucks 4-2-2 (10 points) (up 4 spots)
For the time being, it looks like Roberto Luongo has wrestled the starting job away from Cory Schneider. Rightfully so, as Luongo surrendered just three goals in three starts last week. The continued development of young Zack Kassian has been key, he has five goals and an assist so far.
11. New Jersey Devils 4-1-3 (11 points) (down 5 spots)
Three straight overtime losses for the Devils and then they laid an egg in Pittsburgh. They bounced back strong against the Islanders with a 3-0 win. This is a big week for them as they face the Rangers, Lightning and Penguins (twice). Ilya Kovalchuk has struggled to score.
12. Minnesota Wild 4-3-1 (9 points) (no change)
I’m still waiting for this team to break out. Every time they get a big win, they seem to be unable to follow it up. The Parise-Koivu-Heatley line has been great so far. Ryan Suter is a surprising -6 on the season, that needs to change. With a light week this week, is this where we finally see the Wild make a move in the right direction?
13. New York Rangers 4-4-0 (8 points) (no change)
The Rangers have started slow, but the’yre beginning to awaken. The 3-2 win over the Lightning was huge. I like what i’ve seen in the development of Michael Del Zotto. He’s +5 on the year and has six points (2g, 4a). They play only two games this week, against two of their biggest rivals, with the Devils on Tuesday and Islanders on Thursday.
14. Edmonton Oilers 4-3-1 (9 points) (up 8 spots)
The Oilers have been scrappy and finding ways to win games. They pushed San Jose to a shootout before losing. Has anyone scored more big goals so far this season than Nail Yakupov? I’m not sure how long they’ll keep this going, but there’s definitely progress here. They’re fun to watch.
15. Nashville Predators 3-2-3 (9 points) (no change)
The Predators followed up a three game losing streak with shootout wins over the Sharks and Kings. They’ve struggled to score thus far, as three players are tied for the team lead in goals with just two. Defense will need to be their M.O. like usual, but do they have enough?
16. New York Islanders 4-3-1 (9 points) (up one spot)
The Islanders have given the fans on Long Island a lot of hope so far this season. Evgeni Nabakov has been solid, but not great. Their power play has been a strength, as they are currently fifth in the league at 29%. I don’t think the Isles are going to go away and they’ll be right in the hunt for a playof birth.
17. Detroit Red Wings 4-3-1 (9 points) (up one spot)
That was a big win against St. Louis at home, but then they followed it up with a 4-2 loss to the Blue Jackets. They’ve been inconsistent thus far, but they’ll get some more healthy bodies back soon. Jimmy Howard has been a tad underwhelming so far and he’ll need to be better.
18. Colorado Avalanche 4-4-0 (8 points) (up 2 spots)
Colorado has been up and down so far, it’s hard to get a read on them. In most of their wins they’ve looked excellent, but in their losses, they’ve been beaten handily. They’re a team in search of consistency. Losing Gabriel Landeskog for a while will hurt.
19. Los Angeles Kings 2-3-2 (6 points) (no change)
Whats up with the Kings? They’ve struggled to score and they haven’t exactly been sharp in their own end either. Jonathan Quick’s .897 save percentage just won’t cut it. Though they’re the Cup winners, you have to remember that they were a middle of the road team in the regular season before they got hot.
2o. Toronto Maple Leafs 4-4 (8 points) (no change)
The Leafs had a strong week last week, with wins against Buffalo and Washington before losing a close 1-0 game to the Bruins. They’ve shown that they have some scoring depth, but will they be able to put it together on a nightly basis enough to contend for a playoff spot?
21. Winnipeg Jets 3-4-1 (7 points) (down 11 spots)
It was a rough week for the Jets as they surrendered 18 goals in their three consecutive losses last week. Without much in goal, the Jets will struggle to keep up. Who would have thought that through the first eight games, defenseman Tobias Enstrom would be leading the team with 11 points (2g 9a).
22. Carolina Hurricanes 3-4-0 (6 points) (down 1 spot)
Just when you think Carolina is ready to make a move, they fall back to the pack. Cam Ward has been terrible so far and backup goaltender Dan Ellis posted a shutout last week. Does Carolina go with the hot goalie? I think they have to. Eric Staal is off to a nice start, with nine points (6g, 3a) in just seven games.
23. Phoenix Coyotes 3-4-2 (8 points) (up 6 spots)
You had to expect that the Coyotes would pick it up a bit after their slow start and they did. They picked up at least a point in every game they played last week. Perhaps the most promising thing for the ‘Yotes was that goaltender Mike Smith rebounded from a rough start to post a shutout against the Stars.
24. Buffalo Sabres 3-5-1 (7 points) (no change)
I hate to ask this question, but whats up with Ryan Miller? He’s surrendered four goals in each of his last three starts. He has to be better if the Sabres expect to make a playoff push. Has anyone been hotter than Thomas Vanek? He has 19, yes 19 points (8g, 11a) in his first nine games.
25. Dallas Stars 3-5-1 (7 points) (down 9 spots)
The Stars had a rough week that now finds them under .500 for the season, after taking three losses last week. Once Jamie Benn gets up to speed, the Stars should find some more scoring. They start the week with road games in Colorado and Edmonton, which will be a tough test.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets 3-5-1 (7 points) (up 1 spot)
The Jackets have actually had some nice moments so far. They followed up two straight losses with a 4-2 win over Detroit. I think we’re going to see a lot of this from Columbus this year, moments where they look to be the same old Blue Jackets and others where they begin to put it together.
27. Philadelphia Flyers 3-6-0 (6 points) (down 2spots)
Six losses in their first nine games is definitely enough to be very concerned. They haven’t scored very much outside of their wins against the Panthers and Hurricanes, but when they do, they seem to find some success, putting up seven and five goals respectively in those wins. Ilya Bryzgalov has actually been the backbone of this team so far.
28. Florida Panthers 3-5-0 (6 points) (up two spots)
Florida overcame a dreadful start to the season to post two consecutive wins to finish the week out. They need to find the magic that led them to a division title soon, with in-state rival Tampa Bay off to a great start. The goaltending situation is going to hamper them all season.
29. Washington Capitals 2-6-1 (5 points) (down 1 spot)
The Caps have been BAD. So bad, in fact, that there are now rumours of a possible Alex Ovechkin trade coming. I think thats all hogwash, but Washington needs to do something to right the ship. Four games under .500 after nine games is a tough hole to dig yourself out of in a 48 game season.
30. Calgary Flames 1-3-2 (4 points) (down 4 spots)
Calgary continues to be the Western Conference’s whipping boys. Miikka Kiprusoff has lost five starts already and has a 3.42 goals against average. Clearly, this is a team that needs to rebuild. No goals yet for Jarome Iginla or Mike Cammalleri so far.